With Kurdish forces taking over various airbases and abandoned military facilities in northern Iraq, and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) continuing to move south towards Baghdad, Iraq is set to collapse in on itself.
Yesterday, the city of Kirkuk was seized by Kurdish forces in the north, which has long been sought as a potential capital for an autonomous Kurdish state, and for its rich oilfields. The city is outside of what is considered the Kurdish autonomous region, but Kurds in the area claim it to be their historical capitol.
ISIL claimed the city of Mosul on June 6 after Iraqi military and policing forces abandoned the city, leaving behind military grade weaponry and tanks.
The group has begun to set the roots for what appears to be a Sharia law based region in the city as they put forth an 11-point charter with rules against drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes, while requiring people to pray five times a day and women to stay indoors unless of an emergency.
For ISIL, they now plan to move on Baghdad, which a spokesman for the group said, “we have an account to settle there.” Similar threats to Baghdad, and the general danger spreading throughout the country, saw three planeloads of Americans evacuated from an air base just north of the capital.
President Obama responded to the recent unrest in Iraq saying he has not ruled anything out in terms of how to handle this delicate situation. “What we’ve seen over last couple of days indicates degree to which Iraq is going to need more help,” the president said.
The central Iraqi government has been aware of the growing threat of insurgent groups for over a month now, and the New York Times has reported Iraqi officials have made various requests for military aid in the form of airstrikes across the region.
Spokeswoman for the US National Security Council, Bernadette Meehan, told the Times, “We are not going to get into details of our diplomatic discussions, but the government of Iraq has made clear that they welcome our support.”
Russian Foreign Prime Minister Sergei Lavrov was quoted by Russian state news agencies as saying, “What is happening in Iraq is an illustration of the total failure of the adventure undertaken primarily by the U.S. and Britain and which they have let slip completely out of control.”